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First off, full disclosure: I have worked on two projects for Pugsteady via Onyx Path Publishing. You’ll see my work in the forthcoming Roll of Good Dogs and Cats, and Adventures For Curious Cats, and so I am a tiny bit prejudiced in favor of the recently released Monarchies of Mau. That said, the book, the game, and the world of Realms of Pugmire is already one of my favorite fantasy RPG settings of all time. Why? What about this game of cats, dogs, and other animals catches my eye? Me, a fan of horror, deep storytelling, and games that are dark for the purpose of exposing light?
1) Not A Funny Cat Story
The first is that Pugmire and Mau are family friendly, but they are not games for children. They are intricate, deep, and powerful game worlds that offer a hook that people initially find funny. How? For example, you play anthropomorphic cats who wear armor and call themselves monarchs. They believe that they once were worshipped by The Old Ones, humanity. They take artifacts of Man and use them for Necromancy and other magic. These things seem like they could be silly. But then, they are also presented as people. People that laugh, that cry, that fight against the darkness to seize a chance at creating a world that is good for them and their families. Demons have destroyed at least one of the Monarchies of Mau. Darkness and corruption are attempting to infiltrate these places. Sure, you’re a cat, but you are also faced with challenges our feline friends would protect us from.
2) Intrigue and Adventure
The Monarchies of Mau are inspired by a mix of Venetian, Chinese, and Feline cultures. They are city states that hold secrets close to their hearts. Such a setting offers intercultural intrigues and stories of wheeling and dealing for those that love such things in their games. On top of this, high adventure can be had vying against creatures of various types, including unseen demons, undead, and the normal high fantasy creatures that you would expect to see in a fantasy game. So, run your favorite adventure for D&D, Pathfinder, or OSR, and toss in a splash of cats, dogs, badgers, and others. Or, pull out your paths, stories, and chronicles that touch on intrigue, diplomacy, and information and run those instead. The Realms of Pugmire are your oyster. They offer an opportunity for every sort of tale.
3) Well Crafted Mechanics
Monarchies of Mau is based on the OGL system for Dungeons and Dragons. It also pulls inspiration from 13th Age and other games that have done good things with the basic d20 OGL rules. In a sense, it pulls out the best of everything that has come before and distilled it perfectly for this game. Mau uses a simpler leveling system, distilling down to 10 levels what would normally take 20. And... this works. You gain an ability every level, and you start off more powerful than you would even in a 5th Edition game. The mechanics are the same, you roll a d20, with proficiency bonuses and Armor Classes, but the game feels peppier, quicker, and more powerful all at the same time. This is one of the best things that designers with years in the industry offer us, and Eddy Webb, the designer of Pugmire and Mau, has the background to help distill the best parts of the game system for his world.
Josh is the intrepid Chief Operations Officer of High Level Games. With 20 years of playing rpgs, Josh started with Mind's Eye Theater LARPs and loves the World of Darkness. He runs, www.keepontheheathlands.com to support his gaming projects. Josh is the administrator of the Inclusive Gaming Network on Facebook. He’s running a Changing Breeds game. He’s a serious advocate for inclusive gaming spaces, a father, and a graduate from the International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate program at American University in Washington, D.C. You can also find Josh’s other published adventures here and here.
Image from the GM’s Screen For Monarchies of Mau
All blog materials created and developed by the staff here at High Level Games